Niche Market Point & Shoot Cameras

As the point & shoot market matures with cell phones taking a bite out of the low-end of the market and mirrorless cameras cannibalizing the other end, it is not surprising that companies are introducing cameras that have unique features. I call these cameras “niche point and shoots.” Since I already discussed underwater cameras in my recent post “Roundup of Underwater Point and Shoot Digital Cameras”, I will not include them in this post.

Nikon has a nice little camera with the Coolpix S01. The S01 is very little. It will fit into the coin pocket on your Levi’s®. While the S01 is small, it is big in features. Premium finish, 10.1 megapixels, rechargeable battery, 7.3GB of built-in memory (that’s enough for 3000 images @ 10.1 megapixel setting!), HD video, 3x wide optical zoom and a 2½” touch screen LCD display. Amazing.

Nikon also introduced the Coolpix S800c. While the S800c is a very capable 16 megapixel 10x wide optical zoom with a 3½” hi-res OLED touch screen LCD, this camera brings WiFi to a whole new level in a point and shoot camera by utilizing Android connectivity. You can wirelessly upload photos to the internet so you can share your photos with friends or family or you can wirelessly transfer your photos to a smart device such as your smart phone or tablet. Nikon has a video you can view by clicking here.

This brings me to an emerging segment in point and shoot cameras. Most cameras in this segment have the 1/2.3″ sensor. And for some time, the premium cameras had a slightly larger 1/1.7″ sensor. Cameras like the Canon PowerShot G15, PowerShot S110, Lumix LX7 and the Leica D-Lux 6 have enjoyed success with this strategy. The cameras we are discussing are cameras with even larger sensors. And by larger, I mean 1″ diagonal and larger. A typical sized sensor for most cameras is 1/2.3″ which equates to 6.2mm x 4.65mm. To give you an idea about the size difference, a 1″ sensor is 13.2mm x 8.8mm, the 1½” sensor has the dimensions of 18.7mm x 14.0mm, the APS-C sized sensor is 22.3mm x 14.9mm and a full-sized sensor is 36mm x 24mm. These larger sensors can range from four times to thirty times larger in size than a conventional point and shoot!

The benefits of the larger sensor are:

  • better low-light performance
  • better high ISO performance
  • wider dynamic range
  • shallow depth of field for background blur

The cameras that come to mind are the Canon PowerShot G1x, Fuji X100, Sony RX1 and RX100 and the Leica X2.

Megapixel Sensor
(35mm Equivalent)
PowerShot G1x
14.3 1.5″ CMOS 4x Wide
Finepix X100
12.3 APS-C CMOS 23mm f/2
16.5 APS-C CMOS 24mm f/2.8
CyberShot RX1
24.3 Full Frame CMOS 35mm f/2
Carl Zeiss
CyberShot RX100
20.2 1.0″ CMOS 10.4-30.7mm

Which camera is for you? It goes without saying if you are looking at these models, performance is important to you. If size is a consideration, I would look at the Sony RX100 or Leica X2. Want a finder? Go with the Canon G1x or the Fuji X100. Best performer? I would go with the Sony RX1. But it is important to note that these cameras are not for everyone, some don’t have the convenience of a zoom lens, some are just too big for the casual user. These cameras are all great offerings, come in to the store for a  demonstration.